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Honesty and passion to the fore as Jinx gets set for free Galway concert

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Every day, people can be heard venting their discontent with the current state of Irish society. Many are disillusioned and angry with the government, and voice this on call-in radio shows. But you’d be hard pressed to find any modern Irish music that taps into these feelings.


That is, until you encounter Jinx Lennon. The Dundalk based punk/folk troubadour has been shining an unflattering light on Ireland since back in the boom times and will doing just that when he plays a free show in Róisín Dubh on Friday, October 1. Given his fired-up stance on things, how does Jinx feel about the Taoiseach’s now-notorious night out in Galway?

“I’ve a vision of a fella, he probably grew up with loads of people there,” says Lennon. “I’m just thinking of the mindset of Fianna Fáil people in a certain part of the country. They do what they like and they see other people doing what they like; they probably think there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe he still thinks that way: ‘to hell with the rest of them, this is just the way I am, this is my way of doing things’.”

Jinx feels that a “moral compass has gone wrong” with our leadership but is not in the form to offer any sympathy.

“Of course it’s not good enough to have someone like that leading the country,” he says about Brian Cowen. “But the problem is, on the international scale, it’s done so much damage. People internationally see that Irish people take it, and people will not stand up for themselves.”

Jinx feels that the populace is guilty of misdirected outrage instead of actually taking a stand.

“The thing that really annoys me is what people get excited about in this country which is basically, sport,” he declares. “People will kill for sport. You get Facebook things being sent, there were 30 or 40 groups traumatised by that match where the French guy had the handball incident. People really got forceful about that and started opening up and I’m thinking ‘there something wrong with the way people think in this country’.

“The politicians in this country understand that,” he continues. “That’s why they go to all these matches and make sure they’re seen. Cos it’s like ‘we’re all one big nation together’. We can’t be one big nation when one man’s getting €300,000 and the other fella can hardly afford the ticket to go to the match.”

But Jinx Lennon’s music is not just about getting angry – it’s about getting uplifted. He comes across as a performer determined to shake us out of our malaise. This is very much the ethos behind the title of his latest album, National Cancer Strategy.

“It’s all about erosion of self-confidence in the last few years,” he says. “It’s all about the tension stirring beneath the surface; people are really, really angry. There are loads of things in this album about mindlessness and things going awry. As it progresses it’s about keeping sane and there’s uplifting songs towards the end.”

Jinx Lennon approach to songwriting is akin to that of a novelist, in that he concentrates on little kinks in personalities to create characters.

“I’m very interested in writing songs about individuals who find themselves totally alone in a situation that they’re not used to and have to get out of,” he says.

Over the course of National Cancer Strategy we encounter a woman having road rage on the dual carriageway, a couple breaking up, a man fighting diabetes and adults neglecting their aging parents. Lennon explains why he goes to the darker side of society in his songs.

“It’s almost as if people feel they’re going to live forever and nothing wrong is ever going to happen to them,” he says. “Some thing can go wrong; there are danger spots waiting for people, unknown to themselves. And the whole media thing gives people the impression that everything’s going to be grand and we’re all living in a very safe society. I like to see what happens when some switch is turned – ‘life’s not that at all. What’s going to happen to me, how am I going to cope here?’.”

While Jinx has established a loyal fan base through relentless touring, he still remains an artist with cult appeal. Building on that following is something he is always keen to do without compromising his punk-meets-preacher approach.

“My job as a songwriter is to get the stuff out there,” he says. “As long as people are talking about and giving it a bit of press, that’s great for me. My whole thing is about getting more fans on board, as much as possible.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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